Bill Routley

Interviewed by Phil Legg

Bill Routley was born in 1948 in Chatham, Ontario. He was the son of two ministers who raised him in Duncan, on Vancouver Island. The treatment of employees at a shoe repair business in Victoria kindled his interest in workers’ rights. After leaving that job, he started working at the B.C. Forest Products Youbou sawmill, where he soon became concerned with safety hazards and the lack of training. Routley was elected chair of his local’s (IWA Canada, Local 1-80) safety committee and then as chair of its plant committee. Routley was also an elected school trustee for the Cowichan Valley school district from 1980 to 1985. In 1986, he was elected vice-president of his local, which was followed by his election as president of the local in 1990. He continued as president of his local until he won the NDP nomination to become the MLA for the Cowichan Valley electoral district in 2008. Routley won the election in 2009 and was re-elected as an MLA until the 2017 election when he decided not to run again.

Stevenson’s Shoe Clinic; Youbou Sawmill; training; occupational health and safety; first aid; green chain; safety violations; WCB; WCB claims suppression; chlorophenyl; penta chlorophenol; dioxins; Agriculture Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; British Columbia Forest Products Limited (BCFP); school trustee-School District 79-Cowichan Valley; IWA Local 1-80; strikes; IWA-Canada 1986 strike; South Island Family Assistance Program; family assistance programs; United Steelworkers Workers Canada (USW Canada); BC NDP; Fletcher Challenge; Timber West Forest Corporation; B.C. Forest Act; Tree Farm Licenses; WorkSafeBC; Lakeland Mill fire; Burns Lake mill fire; parliamentary traditions and language; Ross Davies; Dennis Martel; Rick Waller; Bob MacPhee; Buck Hollingdrake; Fernie Vialis; Keith Bennett; Roger Stanyer; Larry Rewakowski; Dan Clements; Earl Foxcroft; Brian Butler; Doug Routley; Dan Miller; Dave Zirnhelt; Richard Hughes; Doug Morgan; Leonard Krog; John Horgan; Gord Macatee; Dave Anderson; Shirley Bond; Kevin Falcon

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This interview was conducted with help from the Kaatza Station Museum Archives.